Search Images Maps Play YouTube News Gmail Drive More »
Sign in
Screen reader users: click this link for accessible mode. Accessible mode has the same essential features but works better with your reader.

Patents

  1. Advanced Patent Search
Publication numberUS5031205 A
Publication typeGrant
Application numberUS 07/513,097
Publication dateJul 9, 1991
Filing dateApr 23, 1990
Priority dateApr 23, 1990
Fee statusPaid
Publication number07513097, 513097, US 5031205 A, US 5031205A, US-A-5031205, US5031205 A, US5031205A
InventorsStephen Phillips
Original AssigneeStephen Phillips
Export CitationBiBTeX, EndNote, RefMan
External Links: USPTO, USPTO Assignment, Espacenet
Auto response phone system
US 5031205 A
Abstract
An auto response phone system is provided that allows a user to automatically screen calls and respond without even talking into a telephone receiver. In one embodiment of the invention the system is built into a conventional telephone. In an alternative embodiment the system is built into a separate case and operates as an accessory. The system stores several messages in non-volatile electronic format. The user picks up the phone when called to identify the caller. The user can then speak to the caller or automatically send one of the pre-recorded messages. A special night button automatically gives a night time message and disables the telephone ringer. If the caller sends a predetermined sequence of touch tones the user's ringer is re-activated to permit emergency calls to be answered. A monitor capability allows the user to monitor all telephone transactions.
Images(2)
Previous page
Next page
Claims(13)
What is claimed is:
1. An auto response phone system comprising:
a. a digital switch that routes control and data signals throughout said auto response phone system;
b. a multiplicity of electrically erasable programmable read only memories to store the contents of messages to be provided by said auto response phone system;
c. a microphone to capture a user's voice message and convert said voice message into an analog signal;
d. a microphone amplifier to increase the amplitude of said analog signal;
e. an analog to digital converter to convert said analog signal to a stream of bits which are stored in one of said memories as directed by said digital switch;
f. a digital to analog converter which converts said stream of bits into an analog signal which closely duplicates the output of said microphone;
g. a preamp which increases the amplitude of the output of said digital to analog converter;
h. a speaker and a power amplifier, whereby said speaker is driven by said power amplifier;
i. a ring detector that outputs a signal to said digital switch whenever a ringing signal is present on a telephone line connected to said auto response phone system;
j. an electronic ringer switch that disables the ringing signal to said auto response phone system;
k. a mixer that allows the output signal from said preamp to connect with a telephone line connected to said auto response phone system;
l. a multiplicity of message switches connected to said digital switch, wherein each of said message switches corresponds to one of said memories, whereby when one of said message switches is depressed said digital switch directs the appropriate memory to output its connected via said digital switch to said digital to analog converter, to said preamp, to said power amplifier, and to said speaker, and also to said mixer, thereby outputting a message onto said telephone line; and,
m. a record switch connected to said digital switch whereby when said record switch is activated simultaneously with one of said message switches any voice incumbent upon said microphone is converted to an electrical analog signal which is amplified by said microphone amplifier, converted to a digital signal by said analog to digital converter, and directed to the appropriate memory via said digital switch, wherein said digital signal is stored in non-volatile fashion in said appropriate memory.
2. An auto response phone system, as recited in claim 1, further comprising a night switch whereby when said night switch is depressed said digital switch directs the appropriate memory to output its contents via said digital switch to said digital to analog converter, to said preamp, to said power amplifier, and to said speaker, and also to said mixer, thereby outputting a message onto said telephone line, while disabling said electronic ringer switch so that a connected phone's ringer does not operate; and a toner decoder that detects the presence of a predetermined touch tone code sequence and re-enables said electronic ringer switch such that said ringer operates normally.
3. An auto response phone system, as recited in claim 2, further comprising in signal lamp that lights when said night switch is activated.
4. An auto response phone system, as recited in claim 1, further comprising a monitor switch that when activated bridges said telephone line to said preamp so that signals transmitted via said telephone line can be automatically monitored.
5. An auto response phone system, as claimed in claim 2, further comprising a modular jack to attach a conventional modular telephone, a cable with a modular plug to connect with a conventional modular telephone line, and a case to contain all of the elements of the phone system such that the system is an accessory to a conventional modular telephone.
6. An auto response phone system for electronically answering a telephone with a selectable one of a plurality of pre-recorded messages and for screening calls by selectively blocking and remotely activating a ringer means of the telephone while also providing for the optical audio monitoring of incoming calls, said system comprising
controllable logic means and switch means connected to said logic means for controlling said logic means;
ring signal detection means and a plurality of erasable message storage means connected to said logic means;
said ring signal detection means being coupled to a telephone line such that an incoming call on said telephone line is detected by said ring signal detection means and an indication is transmitted to said logic means;
message transmission means connected to said logic means and said telephone line whereby an audio message from a selected one of said plurality of erasable message storage means is selectably transmitted over said telephone line by said logic means;
means for selectively recording an audio message on any one of said plurality of erasable message storage means;
audio monitor means, ring disable/enable means, and tone decoder means;
said logic means selectively connecting said audio monitor means to said telephone line when a call has been detected by said ring signal detection means and said switch means have been switched to allow audio monitoring;
said ring disable/enable means being connected to the ringer means of said telephone and to said logic means for selectively enabling and disabling said ring means;
said tone decoder means being coupled to said telephone line and said logic means such that dialing tones on said telephone line are detected and interpreted by said tone decoder means and transmitted to said logic means;
said switch means being connected to said logic means such that switching said switch means selects one of a plurality of functions of said system, said functions including:
manually selecting an audio message from one of said plurality of storage means for immediate transmission over said telephone line,
selecting a message from one of said plurality of storage means for automatic transmission over said telephone line when a ring is detected by said ring signal detection means,
disabling said ringer means and selecting a message from one of said plurality of storage means for automatic transmission over said telephone line when a ring signal is detected by said ring signal detection means and automatically enabling said ringer means when said tone decoder detects a preselected tone or sequence of tones on said telephone line, and
selecting a message from one of said plurality of storage means for automatic transmission over said telephone line when a ring is detected by said ring signal detection means and enabling said audio monitor means to monitor transmission on said telephone line.
7. An auto response phone system as claimed in claim 6 wherein said message storage means comprise erasable programmable read only memory modules.
8. An auto response phone system as claimed in claim 7 wherein said message transmission means comprises a digital to analog converter.
9. An auto response phone system as claimed in claim 8 wherein said means for selectively recording comprises a microphone and an analog to digital converter.
10. An auto response phone system as claimed in claim 9 wherein said audio monitor means comprises a loudspeaker and an amplifier.
11. An auto response phone system as claimed in claim 10 wherein said logic means comprises an integrated circuit chip.
12. An auto response phone system as claimed in claim 11 wherein said logic means comprises a plurality of gate means.
13. An auto response phone system as claimed in claim 12 wherein said switch means comprises a plurality of push buttons.
Description
BACKGROUND OF THE INVENTION

The instant invention relates generally to the field of telecommunications and, more specifically to telephones and telephone accessories that limit access to a called telephone under certain conditions.

At the present state-of-the-art the telephone owner is subject to all sorts of unwanted telephone calls. Some of these undesired calls are placed by telephone solicitors, political campaign supporters, and charities. Some calls are merely annoyances and some may include harassment such as calls from bill collectors, ex-spouses, attorneys, children making prank calls, etc.

There is no way, at present to eliminate these calls or to ameliorate the extent to which they are annoying. Individuals have developed strategies to cope with this including hanging up immediately on unsolicited calls, explaining to the caller why the call is unwelcome, and threatening the caller. Legislative action is pending that may limit the use of, for instance, automated telephone soliciting. On occasion it is possible to have ones name removed from a solicitation list, but this is difficult at best.

Another problem is that of callers, sometimes desired callers, placing calls at inconvenient times. While leaving the phone off the hook entirely clearly prevents access during these times, it also prevents legitimate access in true emergencies.

A better solution would be to use some type of automated response system that provides appropriate responses for each of these situations.

SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION

It is, therefore, a primary object of the instant invention to provide an auto response phone system that allows the user to automatically respond to phone calls without actually speaking into the telephone.

Another object is to provide an auto response phone system that permits the user to monitor the incoming calls.

Yet another object is to provide an auto response phone system that stores a number of messages in non-volatile form.

A further object is to provide an auto response phone system equipped with a night switch that when depressed disables a telephone's ringer, announces that the user is asleep or away from the phone, and suggests calling in the morning, or entering some predetermined touch tone sequence to re-activate the ringer in case of emergency.

A yet further object is to provide an auto response phone system that can be built into the same form factor as a conventional telephone.

A still further object is to provide an auto response phone system that uses solid-state storage of message instead of tape for prolonged life, reduced size, and increased reliability.

Yet another object is to provide an auto response phone system that can be used as an accessory to an existing conventional telephone.

Another object is to provide an auto response phone system that is simple and inexpensive to fabricate and easy to use.

Further objects of the invention will appear as the description proceeds.

To the accomplishment of the above and related objects, this invention may be embodied in the form illustrated in the accompanying drawings, attention being called to the fact, however, that the drawings are illustrative only and that changes may be made in the specific construction illustrated and described within the scope of the appended claims.

BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWING FIGURES

The figures in the drawings are briefly described as follows:

FIG. 1 is a perspective view of the invention shown built into a conventional telephone.

FIG. 2 is a perspective view of an alternative embodiment of the invention illustrated as an accessory that easily attaches to a conventional telephone.

FIG. 3 is an electronic block diagram of the invention.

LIST OF REFERENCE NUMERALS

10--the system integrated into a conventional telephone

12--SPST push button "RECORD" switch

14--SPST push button "MESSAGE 1" switch

16--microphone

18--microphone preamplifier integrated circuit

20--the system as a separate accessory

22--analog to digital converter integrated circuit

24--digital switch, discrete ICs or custom ASIC

26--electrically erasable programmable read only memory

28--electrically erasable programmable read only memory

30--SPST push button "MESSAGE 2" switch

32--electrically erasable programmable read only memory

34--SPST push button "NIGHT" switch

36--indicator lamp

38--read/write data line

40--read/write data line

42--read/write data line

44--erase control line

46--erase control line

48--erase control line

50--digital to analog converter integrated circuit

52--audio preamplifier integrated circuit

54--internal telephone line

56--mixer/multiplexer integrated circuit

58--SPST push button "MONITOR" switch

60--audio power amplifier integrated circuit

62--speaker

64--ring detector integrated circuit

66--electronic ring detector integrated circuit

68--tone detector integrated circuit

70--case for system integrated into telephone

72--conventional touch tone pad

74--case for system as accessory

76--modular telephone jack

78--external telephone cord

80--modular telephone plug

DETAILED DESCRIPTION OF THE PREFERRED EMBODIMENTS

In FIG. 1 the auto response system 10 is shown integrated into a conventional telephone. In FIG. 2 the auto response system 20 is shown as an accessory that can be used with a conventional telephone.

The operation of either embodiment of the invention can best be understood with reference to all of the drawing figures, although the operation of both embodiments is essentially the same.

To prepare the auto response phone system for use messages must first be recorded To record message #1 the user depresses "RECORD" button 14 and "MESSAGE 1" button 12 simultaneously and begins speaking into microphone 16. The analog signal from microphone 16 is amplified by microphone preamplifier 18 and is converted to a string of digital signals by analog to digital converter 22. This digital output is routed via digital switch 24 to electrically erasable programmable read only memory (EEPROM #1) 26. Digital switch 24 is a custom logic circuit that may be implemented using discrete function integrated circuits or may be built as an application specific integrated circuit. The EEPROM #1 memory 26 is non-volatile and will not lose the message even if there is a loss of power.

Similarly, a second message can be stored in electrically erasable programmable read only memory (EEPROM #2) 28 by depressing "RECORD" button 14 and "MESSAGE 2" button 30 simultaneously. In a similar manner, any number of additional messages can be stored in read only memory (EEPROM #2) 28 simply by adding buttons similar to button 30. Also, pre-recorded messages may be recorded by the manufacturer, i.e. "I am sorry but this exchange does not accept telephone solicitations. Please send your request in writing" can be programmed into read only memory (EEPROM #2) 28 in a memory region that cannot be written to by the user. Likewise, a night message can be stored in electrically erasable programmable read only memory (EEPROM NIGHT MESSAGE) 32 by depressing "RECORD" button 14 and the "NIGHT" button 34 simultaneously. When "NIGHT" button 34 is activated this is indicated by the glow of indicating lamp 36. At this point messages have been stored in EEPROMs 26, 28 and 32 via read/write busses 38, 40, and 42 respectively. If the message is to be changed EEPROMs 26, 28, and 32 are erased via erase signals on lines 44, 46, and 48 respectively.

When the phone rings the user can pick up the receiver and ask for the identity of the caller. If the user does not wish to personally speak to the caller he may depress either "MESSAGE #1" button 14 or "MESSAGE #2 button 30. Depressing either of these buttons directs digital switch 24 to direct either EEPROM 26 or EEPROM 28 to output their contents, via digital switch 24, to digital to analog converter 50 which converts the digital signal stream into an analog of the original voice. The output of the digital to analog converter 50 is amplified by preamp 52 and is output to the telephone line 54 via mixer 56 so the message is heard by the caller.

At any time the user may depress "MONITOR" button 58 which enables preamp 52, power amplifier 60 and speaker 62 so that the telephone transaction may be monitored without the caller's awareness.

When "NIGHT" button 34 is activated and there is an incoming call ring detector 64 detects the presence of the ringing signal on telephone line 54 and directs digital switch 24 to output the message stored in EEPROM 32. At the same time digital switch 24 tells electronic ringer switch 66 to turn off the telephone's ringer so that the user is not disturbed. The message contained in EEPROM 32 might include instructions telling the caller that if his call is truly an emergency he should depress one or more touch tone keys at his location. When these keys are depressed, tone decoder 68 alerts digital switch 24 of this condition and electronic ringer switch 66 is reactivated permitting the telephone ringer to operate normally.

In FIG. 1 the invention 10 is enclosed in a case 70 that has approximately the same footprint as a conventional telephone with conventional touch tone pad 72.

In FIG. 2 the invention 12 is enclosed in a case 74 which can be made in any shape that allows it to be attached aesthetically to a conventional telephone via a double-backed adhesive or hook and loop pile type fastener material. In this embodiment of the invention the input is via a conventional modular phone jack 76 and the output is via a cable 78 and conventional modular phone plug 80.

While certain novel features of this invention have been shown and described and are pointed out in the annexed claims, it will be understood that various omissions, substitutions and changes in the forms and the details of the device illustrated and in its operation can be made by those skilled in the art without departing from the spirit of the invention.

Patent Citations
Cited PatentFiling datePublication dateApplicantTitle
US3784721 *Nov 22, 1971Jan 8, 1974Kilby JSystem for screening telephone calls
US3793487 *Jun 26, 1972Feb 19, 1974Kilby JSystem for screening telephone calls
US4255618 *Apr 18, 1979Mar 10, 1981Gte Automatic Electric Laboratories, IncorporatedDigital intercept recorder/announcer system
US4518827 *Sep 29, 1982May 21, 1985Oki Electric Industry Co., Ltd.Telephone answering and message recording system
US4697282 *Jun 20, 1986Sep 29, 1987Golden Enterprises, Inc.Telephone operator voice storage and retrieval system
US4734930 *Jun 17, 1987Mar 29, 1988Alvaro QuirosVoice recording apparatus
US4776002 *Jun 16, 1987Oct 4, 1988Siemens AktiengesellschaftMethod for prompting at a digital telephone station
US4813014 *Apr 14, 1986Mar 14, 1989Phi Technologies, Inc.For storage and retrieval of audible information
US4827501 *Sep 18, 1986May 2, 1989American Telephone And Telegraph Company, At&T Information SystemsTelephone call screening apparatus
US4881205 *Apr 14, 1988Nov 14, 1989Casio Computer Co., Ltd.Compact electronic apparatus with a refresh unit for a dynamic type memory
US4893329 *Sep 20, 1988Jan 9, 1990Brien Terry D OCall deferral system for telephones
US4908845 *Jun 27, 1988Mar 13, 1990Joyce Communication Systems, Inc.Audio/telephone communication system for verbally handicapped
Non-Patent Citations
Reference
1"Claudivs Converse", British Telecommunications Engineering, vol. 4, Jul. 1985, p. 116.
2 *Claudivs Converse , British Telecommunications Engineering , vol. 4, Jul. 1985, p. 116.
Referenced by
Citing PatentFiling datePublication dateApplicantTitle
US5184971 *Mar 8, 1991Feb 9, 1993Williams Susan AToy telephone recorder with picture actuated recording and playback
US5351289 *Sep 17, 1992Sep 27, 1994Logsdon William KCaller ID telephone security device
US5434906 *Sep 13, 1993Jul 18, 1995Robinson; Michael J.Method and apparatus for processing an incoming call in a communication system
US5533106 *Jun 27, 1994Jul 2, 1996Us West Technologies, Inc.Method and system for processing calls wherein the display of calling party ID information has been inhibited
US5568540 *Apr 14, 1995Oct 22, 1996Active Voice CorporationMethod and apparatus for selecting and playing a voice mail message
US5581604 *Feb 26, 1996Dec 3, 1996Active Voice CorporationMethod and apparatus for processing an incoming call in a communication system
US5598461 *May 26, 1994Jan 28, 1997Greenberg; StephenPersonalized annunciation signaling phone unit
US5625676 *Jun 7, 1995Apr 29, 1997Active Voice CorporationMethod and apparatus for monitoring a caller's name while using a telephone
US5636269 *Jul 29, 1996Jun 3, 1997Lucent Technologies Inc.Intelligent call waiting
US5680504 *Jan 31, 1995Oct 21, 1997Alcatel NvApparatus and method for storing and reproducing digital data
US5717739 *Oct 13, 1995Feb 10, 1998Dyer; DwayneMethods and apparatus for enabling an operator to provide pre-recorded information to a customer
US5787152 *Sep 12, 1997Jul 28, 1998Freadman; TommycaComputer communications device
US5930351 *Mar 18, 1996Jul 27, 1999Lappen; William AscherRemote telephone ringer controller
US5991367 *Oct 14, 1998Nov 23, 1999Robuck; GregTelephone call screener
US6122366 *Jul 16, 1998Sep 19, 2000Lucent Technologies Inc.Telephone with environmentally-influenced call indicator
US6167116 *May 7, 1998Dec 26, 2000Alteclansing Technologies, Inc.Computer communications device
US6404874Oct 10, 2000Jun 11, 2002Cisco Technology, Inc.Telecommute server
US6577859Jun 7, 1999Jun 10, 2003Gadi ZahaviCellular phone system with outgoing message selection system
US6597766 *May 12, 1999Jul 22, 2003Sony CorporatioinTelephone apparatus
US6765994Jul 30, 2002Jul 20, 2004Sbc Properties, L.P.Method and system for canceling unwanted telephone calls
US7010288 *May 6, 2002Mar 7, 2006Cingular Wireless Ii, LlcSystem and method for providing an automatic response to a telephone call
US7068761Mar 29, 2004Jun 27, 2006Sbc Properties, L.P.Method and system for canceling unwanted telephone calls
US8050387Oct 19, 1998Nov 1, 2011Siemens AktiengesellschaftMethod and system for providing customized audio responses to incoming phone calls
US8107594 *Nov 29, 2006Jan 31, 2012At&T Intellectual Property, L.P.Security system with call management functionality
US8340643Apr 11, 2008Dec 25, 2012Samsung Electronics Co., Ltd.Response message transmitter and response message transmitting method in cellular mobile telephone apparatus and recording medium recording program for executing the method
US8346221Sep 7, 2010Jan 1, 2013Samsung Electronics Co., Ltd.Message transmitter and response message transmitting method in cellular mobile telephone apparatus and recording medium recording program for executing the method
US8705701Nov 30, 2011Apr 22, 2014At&T Intellectual Property I, L.P.Security system with call management functionality
US8774381 *Sep 15, 2005Jul 8, 2014Aol Inc.Messaging gateway for directory and anonymous services
DE4402901A1 *Feb 2, 1994Aug 3, 1995Sel Alcatel AgVorrichtung und Verfahren zur Speicherung und Wiedergabe von digitalen Daten
EP0851647A2 *Dec 22, 1997Jul 1, 1998Hitachi, Ltd.Cellular mobile telephone apparatus and method for transmitting a response message to an incoming call
EP1608134A2 *Dec 22, 1997Dec 21, 2005Hitachi, Ltd.Cellular mobile telephone apparatus
EP2114059A1Dec 22, 1997Nov 4, 2009Hitachi Ltd.Cellular mobile telephone apparatus and method for transmitting a response message to an incoming call
EP2375710A1 *Dec 22, 1997Oct 12, 2011Hitachi Consumer Electronics Co., Ltd.Cellular mobile telephone apparatus and method for transmitting a response message to an incoming call
Classifications
U.S. Classification379/88.23, 379/373.02, 379/199, 379/88.21, 379/442, 379/88.28
International ClassificationH04M1/64, H04M1/665
Cooperative ClassificationH04M1/642, H04M1/665
European ClassificationH04M1/64D, H04M1/665
Legal Events
DateCodeEventDescription
Jul 15, 1997PRDPPatent reinstated due to the acceptance of a late maintenance fee
Effective date: 19970509
Dec 1, 1995SULPSurcharge for late payment
Dec 1, 1995FPAYFee payment
Year of fee payment: 4
Sep 19, 1995FPExpired due to failure to pay maintenance fee
Effective date: 19950712
Jul 9, 1995REINReinstatement after maintenance fee payment confirmed
Feb 14, 1995REMIMaintenance fee reminder mailed